Archive for the ‘Trump and Israel’ category

US Diplomacy: When failure became an accepted option

August 15, 2017

US Diplomacy: When failure became an accepted option, Israel National News, Meir Jolovitz, August 15, 2017

(Please see also, President [Rouhani of Iran]: Iran Could Swiftly Return to Pre-JCPOA Conditions. — DM)

For what it’s worth, future historians will judge the North Korean crisis as the less significant one of our generation – simply because China is able to control it. The more formidable and dangerous threat is the nuclearization of Iran. The occasional terror attacks in Europe, murderous as they are, pale in comparison.

In kind, the geopolitical threat that has already been unleashed – remarkably with more support than opposition by the West – is the facilitation of an Iranian nuclear capability. With the overt and covert support of the Obama Administration – despite its denials – the Iranians were fast changing the rules of the game. Unless stopped forcibly in the next year or two, Iran will be in possession of the bomb. Correction: bombs.

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It’s been said by many, in various forms, that “hindsight is everyone’s favorite perspective.”  The problem is, few grasp when “it” is happening until “it” has happened.

Political analysts and pundits are seemingly in concert: the most disquieting crisis that confronts our world today is the realization that North Korea presents a horrifying threat that remains unchecked. It didn’t have to be.

When Susan Rice, President Obama’s National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017, admitted this past week that the two-decade-old US strategy on preventing North Korea from obtaining a nuclear capability was a “failure,” our hindsight was offered some unclouded perspective.

And yet, it was her other comments that made us understand that the lessons of history remain unlearned. Rice, with a criticism directed at President Donald Trump, opined that pragmatism dictates that we should simply accept, and tolerate, a nuclear North Korea.  Worse was the quiet acquiescence:  “The fact of the matter is, that despite all of these efforts, the North Korean regime has been able to succeed in progressing with its program, both nuclear and missile. That’s a very unfortunate outcome; but we are where we are.” Rice added: “It will require being pragmatic.

Pause to laugh, and cry.

Trump, luckily, did not hire Rice as an adviser, and did what he thought was right.

In 1967, a couple of years before he achieved notoriety as the controversial founder and voice of the Jewish Defense League, Rabbi Meir Kahane coauthored a book – The Jewish Stake in Vietnam –  whose implications were largely ignored. One might still find it on the shelves of some antiquarian book store, but the book is largely lost. Its relevance, decades lately, offers food for serious thought.

While the book’s theoretical message was clear, the practical implications remain undeniable.

The radical rabbi argued that the anti-Vietnam war sentiment that had targeted the hearts and minds of a confused American population that was increasingly drawn to slogans of “peace,” “liberation,” and “democratic freedom” – would pressure its government to abandon an ally, South Vietnam. The implication, seemingly unthinkable even to Jewish liberals in the aftermath of Israel’s victory in the Six Day War, was that if the United States could not stand firm in its commitment to support an ally in Southeast Asia, it would one day be willing to abandon its commitment to its only ally in the Middle East as well. Ergo, the Jewish state.

Times have changed, and with it, America’s foreign policy. Israel is no longer considered America’s only ally in a still-troubled Middle East. In fact, the United States counts many, mostly as a result of a misbegotten reinterpretation of what allies are, thanks in great measure to the US State Department’s purposeful redefinition of American interests in the region.

One recalls the comment most often attributed to Charles de Gaulle: “Nations don’t have friends, only interests.”

Despite the very strong relationship that ostensibly exists between President Trump and Israel – at great contrast with that of his predecessor – his State Department and the National Security Council are still adherents of ‘interests before friends’. And, they mistakenly and quite foolishly attribute American interests to the wrong side. Governed by the belief that the “occupied” territories and the settlements are the reason of the impasse to the conflict between Muslims and Jews, Trump is ready to dispatch his son-in-law to once again bridge the unbridgeable gap.

In an oil-thirsty world, the Muslim states (we include here of course, the Islamic Republic of Iran) seemed to have gained a leverage that was simply unthinkable in 1967. The Europeans seemed the first to turn the other cheek when Arab terror spread, still in its nascent stages – mostly one would think, because it was not their cheeks that were being most often slapped.

Over the years, the terror in Europe proliferated. And correlatively, so did the finger of blame that was directed at Israel. As long as the Muslim antipathy was directed at the Jewish State – and more telling, Jews everywhere – the Europeans would assuage the perpetrators. It was Israel that was called to make compromises, territorial and (axiomatically) ideological. The more threatening and damaging the terror, the more shrill the calls for Israeli capitulation.

Undeniably, the greatest threat to the ever-elusive peace in the Middle East, and the invariable spill-over of violence into a Europe that is fast becoming a battlefield, is the terror that so many of its nations have voluntarily imported with the jihadis who carry the torch of Islam.

For what it’s worth, future historians will judge the North Korean crisis as the less significant one of our generation – simply because China is able to control it. The more formidable and dangerous threat is the nuclearization of Iran. The occasional terror attacks in Europe, murderous as they are, pale in comparison.

In kind, the geopolitical threat that has already been unleashed – remarkably with more support than opposition by the West – is the facilitation of an Iranian nuclear capability. With the overt and covert support of the Obama Administration – despite its denials – the Iranians were fast changing the rules of the game. Unless stopped forcibly in the next year or two, Iran will be in possession of the bomb. Correction: bombs.

Meanwhile, the new Trump foreign policy team, despite its frequent criticism of the Obama-Iran nuke deal, has yet to do anything significant. Worse, it has twice certified that Iran remains compliant. Of a deal that Trump called “the worst in diplomatic history.”

Yes, allies are often sacrificed on the mantle of political expedience. The US national security apparatus prefers to call it pragmatism.

And count on it. Susan Rice will one day again be interviewed by the New York Times and CNN, in a joint appearance with President Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, admitting another failure. This will be the statement that they will issue: “The fact of the matter is, that despite all of these efforts, the Iranian regime been able to succeed in progressing with its program, both nuclear and missile. That’s a very unfortunate outcome; but we are where we are.” McMaster, resplendent in his uniform and its military regalia, will add: “It will require being pragmatic.”

After all, we are where we are!

Today, despite the unmistakable danger that Iran poses to Israel directly, it is more than simply a Jewish stake. This is an American interest. The message is quite clear. The practical implications are quite ominous. Let us hope Trump deals with Iran as he is dealing with North Korea.

Pause to cry.

Meir Jolovitz is a past national executive director of the Zionist Organization of America, and formerly associated with the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies.

NSC Purge: McMaster ‘Deeply Hostile to Israel and to Trump’

August 3, 2017

NSC Purge: McMaster ‘Deeply Hostile to Israel and to Trump’, Breitbart, August 3, 2017

(According to President Trump’s agenda for today, he will meet with McMaster following his daily intelligence briefing. — DM)

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick wrote Wednesday evening that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is purging pro-Israel staff from the National Security Council (NSC), turning the administration against President Donald Trump’s policies.

In a Facebook post, Glick noted that “all of these people” whom McMaster has fired this week — Rich Higgins, Derek Harvey, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick — “are pro-Israel and oppose the Iran nuclear deal, positions that Trump holds.”

She noted that the firings were the latest evidence that NSA McMaster is “deeply hostile to Israel and to Trump”:

According to senior officials aware of his behavior, he constantly refers to Israel as the occupying power and insists falsely and constantly that a country named Palestine existed where Israel is located until 1948 when it was destroyed by the Jews.

Many of you will remember that a few days before Trump’s visit to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו and his advisers were blindsided when the Americans suddenly told them that no Israeli official was allowed to accompany Trump to the Western Wall.

What hasn’t been reported is that it was McMaster who pressured Trump to agree not to let Netanyahu accompany him to the Western Wall. At the time, I and other reporters were led to believe that this was the decision of rogue anti-Israel officers at the US consulate in Jerusalem. But it wasn’t. It was McMaster.

And even that, it works out wasn’t sufficient for McMaster. He pressured Trump to cancel his visit to the Wall and only visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial — ala the Islamists who insist that the only reason Israel exists is European guilt over the Holocaust.

Glick noted that the three latest firings were not McMaster’s first attack on pro-Israel officials, or those critical of radical Islam. Two others had already been assigned to other jobs outside the National Security Council, she said.

Meanwhile, she noted, McMaster has replaced pro-Israel officials with anti-Israel, anti-Trump officials, and he allowed anti-Israel Obama holdovers to continue in their jobs:

[McMaster] fires all of Trump’s loyalists and replaces them with Trump’s opponents, like Kris Bauman, an Israel hater and Hamas supporter who McMaster hired to work on the Israel-Palestinian desk. He allows anti-Israel, pro-Muslim Brotherhood, pro-Iran Obama people like Robert Malley to walk around the NSC and tell people what to do and think. He has left Ben (reporters know nothing about foreign policy and I lied to sell them the Iran deal) Rhodes’ and Valerie Jarrett’s people in place.

(Malley was notoriously fired by Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign for meeting with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and advocating negotiations with them. He was later brought into President Obama’s administration to negotiate with Iran, and advised Obama — evidently poorly — on how to fight the Islamic State.)

Glick noted that “McMaster disagrees and actively undermines Trump’s agenda on just about every salient issue on his agenda,” including the Iran deal: “As for Iran, well, suffice it to say that McMaster supports the deal and refuses to publish the side deals Obama signed with the Iranians and then hid from the public.”

She also noted the irony that Trump had only hired McMaster, under pressure, because he was recommended by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

Finally, there is the issue of how McMaster got there in the first place. Trump interviewed McMaster at Mara Lago for a half an hour. He was under terrible pressure after firing Flynn to find someone.

And who recommended McMaster? You won’t believe this.

Senator John McCain. That’s right. The NSA got his job on the basis of a recommendation from the man who just saved Obamacare.

Glick expressed disbelief that Trump could fire former General Michael Flynn as NSA “essentially for nothing,” while allowing McMaster to attack Israel, and undermining the rest of the Trump administration’s foreign policy, with impunity.

She suggested that Trump replace McMaster — or else Israel might begin to reconsider its embrace of Trump:

If McMaster isn’t fired after all that he has done and all that he will do, we’re all going to have to reconsider Trump’s foreign policy. Because if after everything he has done, and everything that he will certainly do to undermine Trump’s stated foreign policy agenda, it will no longer be possible to believe that exiting the nuclear deal or supporting the US alliance with Israel and standing with US allies against US foes — not to mention draining Washington’s cesspool – are Trump’s policies. How can they be when Trump stands with a man who opposes all of them and proves his opposition by among other things, firing Trump’s advisers who share Trump’s agenda?

She said that Trump should not fear criticism for firing another adviser:

One source claims that Trump’s political advisers are afraid of how it will look if he fires another national security adviser. But that makes no sense. Trump is being attacked for everything and nothing. Who cares if he gets attacked for doing something that will actually help him to succeed in office? Why should fear of media criticism play a role here or anywhere for this president and this administration?

Glick added, wryly: “Obviously, at this point, Trump has nothing to lose by angering McCain. I mean what will he do? Vote for Obamacare?”

Read Glick’s full post here.

Trump State Dept Unsure Why Palestinian Terrorists Kill Israelis

July 22, 2017

Trump State Dept Unsure Why Palestinian Terrorists Kill Israelis, Washington Free Beacon, , July 21, 2017

(Please see also, State Dept. Blames Israel for Terrorism, Claims Palestinians Rarely Incite Attacks and State Dept. Country Reports on Terrorism 2016. I seem to have messed up in my parenthetical comments there and in the earlier article, having have read and posted the wrong State Department publication. I apologize. My only excuse is that the correct State Department publication was not linked in the original article.  I renew my suggestion that Tillerson, and the Obama hold-overs with him, must go. — DM

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson / Getty Images)

The report singling out Israel is another clear example of the State Department pursuing policies that are well out of line with the White House’s stated agenda, which the sources said has been pro-Israel. One source who advises the White House Middle East policy described the State Department’s explanation to the Free Beacon as “spectacular bull—t.”

“The State Department report includes multiple findings that are both inaccurate and harmful to combating Palestinian terrorism,” Roskam wrote in a letter sent Thursday to the State Department. “This report wrongly insinuates Israeli security measures on the Temple Mount and a stalled peace process as key forces behind terrorism.”

Officials appointed by the Obama administration still work in key State Department positions, the source noted.

“The problem is that the Obama team spent eight years filling the State Department with career staffers who think exactly like they think, and those people are still running things,” the source said. “Some really good people have tried to clean house, but every time anything got going Tillerson went to the president personally to protect the Obama holdovers. So they feel safe producing this kind of mind-numbing nonsense and sending it to Congress.” (Italic emphasis added.)

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Officials in the Trump administration’s State Department are standing by a recent report criticized by Congress that blamed Israel for terror attacks and claimed Palestinians rarely incite violence, telling the Washington Free Beacon that it remains unclear why terrorists engage in violent acts.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, criticized the State Department Thursday for releasing a report portraying Israel as the culprit in terrorism and downplaying Palestinian incitement of violent acts against the Jewish state, the Free Beacon first reported.

Roskam demanded the State Department alter its report to bring it more in line with what he believes are the facts on the ground—that Palestinian leaders routinely incite violence against Israel, which has been forced to defend itself against a growing wave of terror attacks on Jewish citizens.

A State Department official, speaking on background, defended the report’s conclusions and said that it cannot precisely pinpoint the motivations behind Palestinian terror attacks on Israel.

“We recognize that in any community, a combination of risk factors can come together to create a higher risk of radicalization to violence,” the official said. “There is no one single pathway to violence—each individual’s path to terrorism is personalized, with certain commonalities. Therefore, it is difficult to pinpoint precisely what the sources of radicalization to violence are. What could drive someone to violence in one instance could vary significantly with someone else who is similarly situated.”

The State Department’s response prompted a fierce backlash among U.S. officials and Trump administration insiders, who said the State Department under the leadership of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has gone rogue and is out of line with the White House’s position on a range of sensitive diplomatic issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian impasse.

Sources pointed to the administration going into damage control mode last week after State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert stated during a press briefing that the U.S. was “upgrading” its diplomatic standing with the Palestinians, a declaration that came as a surprise to those in the White House.

The report singling out Israel is another clear example of the State Department pursuing policies that are well out of line with the White House’s stated agenda, which the sources said has been pro-Israel. One source who advises the White House Middle East policy described the State Department’s explanation to the Free Beacon as “spectacular bull—t.”

“The State Department report includes multiple findings that are both inaccurate and harmful to combating Palestinian terrorism,” Roskam wrote in a letter sent Thursday to the State Department. “This report wrongly insinuates Israeli security measures on the Temple Mount and a stalled peace process as key forces behind terrorism.”

The officials additionally maintained that Israel remains one of America’s “closest counterterrorism partners,” and that it continues to work closely with the Jewish state to combat threats from ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah.

“Most egregiously,” Roskam wrote in his letter calling out the report, the State Department’s finding portray “the PA as innocent peacemakers far removed from being the source of terrorist activity.”

The State Department’s defense came just hours after three Israelis were killed and another severely wounded following a terror attack by a Palestinian terrorist that was described in the press as the “worst bloodshed” in years.

The official maintained that there is “no justification for any acts of terrorism,” but said the section of the report focusing on Israel is meant to help U.S. officials understand regional tensions.

“This section of the report—which is based on input from our embassies around the world—is intended to inform our efforts to counter radicalization to violence, and to better understand what might be assessed as motivations that could drive individuals towards violence,” the official said. “But this is not intended in any way to condone these acts or to justify them. As we said, there is no justification for any act of terrorism.”

The State Department would not specifically address Roskam’s concerns about the factual inaccuracies surrounding the report’s claims that Israel is to be blamed for terrorism, as well as its claim that Palestinian calls for violence against Israel are “rare” and not tolerated by Palestinian Authority leadership.

“Explicit calls for violence against Israelis, direct exhortations against Jews, and categorical denials by the [Palestinian Authority] of the possibility of peace with Israel are rare and the leadership does not generally tolerate it,” the original report stated.

Roskam called this characterization “demonstrably false,” citing multiple instances in which Palestinian officials and state-sanctioned media organs promote violence, terrorism, and attacks against Israel and Jews.

Multiple sources who spoke to the Free Beacon, including Trump administration insiders and senior Congressional officials, expressed shock at the State Department’s response to Roskam’s letter and cited it as proof that Tillerson department is dramatically departing from the White House’s own policy on these matters.

“Palestinians hate and kill Israelis because they’re taught from a very young age to hate and kill Jews,” one veteran Middle East expert who advises the White House on Israel policy said. “Of course the Obama administration never liked to admit that, but everyone around President Trump understands it.”

Officials appointed by the Obama administration still work in key State Department positions, the source noted.

“The problem is that the Obama team spent eight years filling the State Department with career staffers who think exactly like they think, and those people are still running things,” the source said. “Some really good people have tried to clean house, but every time anything got going Tillerson went to the president personally to protect the Obama holdovers. So they feel safe producing this kind of mind-numbing nonsense and sending it to Congress.”

One senior Congressional official who works on the Middle East situation expressed shock at the State Department’s defense of its report and subsequent claims about the unknown source of terror against Israel.

“Chalking up Palestinian terrorism to anything other than deep-seated anti-Semitism is not only disgraceful, but a reinvention of history,” the source said. “Palestinians are brainwashed by their governments from birth to hate Jews and celebrate suicide bombers. Countering terrorism against Israelis first and foremost requires clarity, which the State Department evidently lacks.”

The source slammed the State Department from departing from clear policy positions outlined by President Donald Trump and the White House.

“This is not what the American people voted for when they elected President Trump, and they deserve better,” the source said. “Members of Congress and the hardworking citizens they represent will not tolerate this nonsense.”

A second source, also a senior congressional official intimately involved in the issue, said the sources of Palestinian radicalization are well established.

“Money, fame, and education are the driving factors here, let’s not kid ourselves,” the source said. “We’re dealing with a community whose government openly lauds child murderers as national heroes and rewards terrorists with large sums of cash. Our State Department needs to focus on combating the PA’s heinous policies instead of praising terrorist-supporters and philosophizing incoherently about the sources of radicalization.”

King of Saudi Arabia Personally Intervenes in Temple Mount Crisis, Says Metal Detectors ‘Routine’ at Holy Places

July 18, 2017

King of Saudi Arabia Personally Intervenes in Temple Mount Crisis, Says Metal Detectors ‘Routine’ at Holy Places, The Jewish PressHana Levi Julian, July 18, 2017

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman of Saudi Arabia personally intervened in the Temple Mount crisis via the United States, according to a report posted Tuesday by the Arabic-language Elaph website, based in London.

The decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top Israeli security officials late Saturday night to reopen the holy site to Muslim worshipers, visitors and tourists allegedly came after receiving a message from the Saudi monarch via the White House.

Moreover, the Saudi king expressed no reservations about Israel’s decision to upgrade security by installing metal detectors at the entrances to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in the wake of the terror attack last Friday that left two Israeli policemen dead and others wounded.

“The issue of metal detection machines, said the source, is a matter that has become routine in the holy places because of terrorism, which strikes without discrimination and in most places regardless of the sanctity of the different religions,” reported Elaph.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein, warned followers that their prayers would not be accepted in Heaven if they pass through the metal detectors to enter the Temple Mount for prayers in Al Aqsa Mosque — the third holiest site in Islam.

Given that King Salman is the Custodian of the Two Mosques, Islam’s two holiest sites, one might consider his authority to overrule that of the Mufti in spiritual matters such as effect of metal detectors on the human body and its ability to convey prayer to heaven.

Israel’s prime minister also reportedly invited King Salman and Saudi officials to visit the Al Aqsa Mosque to see “the situation on the ground,” but “received no response.”

In addition, Netanyahu reiterated his pledge via the White House that Israel would maintain the status quo at the site, the report noted, adding Jordan was also involved in the communications. Israel’s prime minister, Elaph reported, told Jordan’s King Abdullah II he was not pleased about remarks by Jordan’s parliamentary speaker, Atef Tarawneh over Al Aqsa, which he considered “irresponsible.”

On Tuesday, Tarawneh added to the incitement, commenting from the podium of the Jordanian Parliament that the legislative body “is documenting all the racist laws of the Knesset that support the settlements and the occupation, and we will spread them to all the parliaments that are brothers and friends of Jordan around the world.”

A whole new ballgame

July 7, 2017

A whole new ballgame, Israel Hayom, Ruthie Blum, July 7, 2017

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman delivered a speech this week that made the ‎unbearably hot and humid weather feel like a breath of fresh air. At the annual Fourth of July ‎celebration, held Monday evening at his official residence in Herzliya, Friedman not only ‎reiterated his personal faith in Judaism and the Jewish people, but stressed America’s ‎‎”unbreakable bond” with the Jewish state.‎

The bond Friedman was referring to had become so fragile during former U.S. President Barack ‎Obama’s two terms in office that it became the punchline of a joke made in 2014 by comedian ‎Jay Leno. Obama, Leno quipped, knows just how unbreakable the U.S.-Israel bond is, “since ‎he’s been trying to break it for years.”‎

It was not only Friedman’s address that was crafted to convey the loud and clear message that ‎the new administration in Washington is going to behave differently — that it is and will continue ‎to be unequivocally and unflinchingly on Israel’s side. The fact that he was the first U.S. ‎ambassador to invite settler leaders to the event, and proudly pose for photographs with them, ‎already spoke volumes.‎

Friedman began by recounting that the first time he hosted a party in Israel was at the Western ‎Wall in Jerusalem, when he was 13. “As the son of a rabbi of modest means, I can assure you that ‎my bar mitzvah party bore absolutely no resemblance to the party that we are attending here ‎tonight,” he said. “But the spirit … is exactly the same. It is the spirit of patriotic Americans ‎committed to increasing the ties and enhancing the relationship between the United States and ‎the State of Israel. That’s what my family stood for 45 years ago, and that’s still who we are ‎today.” ‎

That right off the bat he boasted of his Jewish connection to the Western Wall in the context of ‎U.S.-Israel relations was highly significant. It signaled to those supporters of President Donald ‎Trump who became disillusioned by what appeared to be a backtracking of his vow to move the ‎U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem that this is not a case of yet another administration ‎reneging on its promises in an attempt to appease the Palestinians and impose a peace deal on ‎Israel. It also indicated to Israel’s enemies that America recognizes Israeli sovereignty over its ‎capital city. ‎

Friedman went on to say, “It was just two months ago that I had the honor … to be the master of ‎ceremonies at the very first party ever hosted by the White House to commemorate Israel’s ‎Independence Day, [where] I had the privilege to proclaim, ‘yom haatzmaut sameach l’medinat ‎yisrael’ — ‘Happy Independence Day to the State of Israel.’ Today, it is my great pleasure to return ‎the favor from 6,000 miles away. And so let me proclaim, ‘yom haatzmaut sameach l’artzot ‎habrit,’ ‘Happy Independence Day to the United States.'” ‎

And then he quoted, in Hebrew, a line from Psalm 118 — “This is a day that the Lord has made; ‎let us [be glad and] rejoice in it” — to make a point about Israel’s being “the source of many of the ‎Judeo-Christian values that spawned the American enterprise.” He invoked the famous Puritan Pilgrim John Winthrop, who in 1630 “implored his followers to be faithful to the teachings of ‎the Jewish prophet, Micah, to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with thy God,'” and told ‎new immigrants to America that if they did so, they would “find that the God of Israel is among ‎us.” ‎

He said that when Winthrop “referred to New England as a ‘city upon a hill with the eyes of all ‎people upon us,” he was also referring to Jerusalem. Indeed, Friedman added, “So much of who ‎we are derives from the teachings of ancient Israel. And, perhaps for that reason, it is no surprise ‎that the United States and Israel have the most special of special relationships.”‎

Here, again, Friedman purposely spoke of Jerusalem, emphasizing that the success and mutual ‎admiration that America and the Jewish state enjoy emanate from “ancient Israel.”‎

‎”We have, of course, common enemies that unite us,” he said — as well as military, trade, culture ‎and cybersecurity cooperation. “But our collective core, what fundamentally unites us, is that we ‎are the two shining cities on a hill, drawn together by a shared history, shared values and … a ‎shared destiny of continued greatness.”‎

This declaration was nothing short of momentous, particularly as it came on the heels of senior ‎Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s June 21 meeting in Ramallah with PA President ‎Mahmoud Abbas, whose henchmen described the encounter as “tense.” Apparently, being told ‎by a prominent member of the White House staff that the paying of terrorists’ salaries has got to ‎stop is not what Abbas had expected to hear — despite being yelled at by Trump himself in May ‎for having lied about the rampant incitement in the PA against Jews and Israelis.‎

Friedman’s next allusion to Jerusalem involved noting that he is the “first [U.S.] ambassador to ‎accompany [Trump] in visiting the kotel hamaaravi, the Western Wall.” From here, he segued ‎into his conclusion by talking about how, earlier in the day, he and Israeli Prime Minister ‎Benjamin Netanyahu had toured the aircraft carrier the USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of ‎Haifa. ‎

Peace through strength, he announced (quoting King David’s words in Psalm 29, which he said ‎his father used to recite every Shabbat morning) is “a foundational cornerstone of the Trump ‎administration” and a “guiding principle of the State of Israel.” ‎

Finally, Friedman said that American men and women in uniform, like their Israeli counterparts ‎in the IDF, “hope never to fire a shot,” preferring to keep the world safe through a demonstration ‎of strength and courage. However — he implied — they willingly sacrifice their lives in this ‎mission if left no other choice.‎

While the new U.S. ambassador to Israel wound down his remarks by wishing the United State a ‎happy 241st birthday, the audience revved up its cheering for the start of what Americans call “a ‎whole new ballgame.”‎

Trump’s productive Middle East failure

June 30, 2017

Trump’s productive Middle East failure, Israel Hayom, Jonathan S. Tobin, June 30, 2017

What the Palestinians fail to understand is that ending PA support for terror is itself a core ‎issue that must be addressed now, and it is not a distraction from the real diplomatic ‎agenda.‎

It’s hardly surprising that the Palestinians are having trouble adjusting to the ‎administration’s mindset. Since neither the Americans nor the Europeans have ‎been much interested in the Palestinians’ terror payments and incitement, they seem to view ‎Trump’s focus on those issues as an indication that he is in Israel’s pocket. Former President Barack Obama was obsessed with the idea that pressure on Israel was ‎the key to peace and was willing to give the Palestinians a pass on anything they ‎did. But Trump rightly understands that as long as the Palestinians are funding ‎terror — and doing so with money given them by the West — they can’t be ‎considered serious about peace.‎

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It didn’t take long for the bubble to burst. The chance of U.S. President Donald Trump achieving a breakthrough in Middle East peace that had eluded all his ‎predecessors was always slim. But reports about Palestinian Authority President ‎Mahmoud Abbas yelling at presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner during ‎their meeting last week may signal that the Trump initiative is over even ‎before it begins.‎

The president’s critics should acknowledge that even if the effort was ‎bound to end in failure, it nevertheless points toward the only way peace can be ‎achieved. By focusing on the Palestinians’ willingness to foment and subsidize ‎terror, the U.S. has exposed a key problem that the Obama administration ignored. ‎Rather than this obstructing peace, it is an important step without ‎which genuine progress toward ending the conflict will be impossible.‎

The meeting between Kushner and Abbas went badly. The Palestinians were ‎shocked that Kushner followed up on the key sticking point that had arisen ‎between Trump and the Palestinian leader during their two meetings in May. ‎Abbas claimed during their first encounter in the White House that the PA was not ‎engaging in incitement to hatred against Israelis and that it did not pay salaries or ‎pensions to terrorists and their families. By the time they met again, Trump had ‎learned that Abbas had lied to him about both issues and reportedly pounded the ‎table as he demanded that the Palestinian leader end these practices.‎

But when Kushner and chief U.S. peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt raised the issue ‎again with Abbas, the Palestinians were angry. As far as Abbas ‎was concerned, the Americans were merely relaying a list of demands from Israeli ‎Prime Minister Netanyahu, when Abbas had been expecting to hear about American ‎positions on “core issues of the conflict,” by which he meant strategies to stop ‎Israel from building in the West Bank and push it back to the 1967 ‎borders.‎

What the Palestinians fail to understand is that ending PA support for terror is itself a core ‎issue that must be addressed now, and it is not a distraction from the real diplomatic ‎agenda.‎

It’s hardly surprising that the Palestinians are having trouble adjusting to the ‎administration’s mindset. Since neither the Americans nor the Europeans have ‎been much interested in the Palestinians’ terror payments and incitement, they seem to view ‎Trump’s focus on those issues as an indication that he is in Israel’s pocket. Former President Barack Obama was obsessed with the idea that pressure on Israel was ‎the key to peace and was willing to give the Palestinians a pass on anything they ‎did. But Trump rightly understands that as long as the Palestinians are funding ‎terror — and doing so with money given them by the West — they can’t be ‎considered serious about peace.‎

The administration denies reports that it is considering backing away from the ‎push for negotiations. But the president may realize that his statement after his ‎first meeting with Abbas, in which he claimed that Middle East peace “is not as ‎difficult as most people thought,” was more than premature. ‎

While few thought his willingness to prioritize the peace process was likely to be ‎rewarded with success, his thinking that the time is ripe for a breakthrough was rational. With Sunni Arab states now looking at Israel as an ally against the ‎threat from Iran, it was reasonable to suppose that this confluence of ‎interests might result in an effort to pressure the Palestinians to settle their dispute ‎with Israel.

However, the theory that the Palestinians can be either pushed or ‎bribed by the Saudis into making peace is now being called into doubt.‎

As long as the Palestinians cling to the idea that their national identity is inextricably tied up with the ‎century-long war on Zionism, peace will remain a pipe dream. Neither Trump’s threats ‎nor the efforts of the Saudis are likely to persuade them to abandon a political ‎culture in which incitement and pensions for terrorists — on which they have ‎lavished more than $1.1 billion in just the last four years — are seen as laudable. ‎Trump is asking Abbas for something he cannot do and still ‎survive in power.‎

But with Congress looking to tie his hands by considering legislation that would ‎end U.S. aid unless the Palestinians stop the terror payments, Trump may not be ‎willing to let this issue drop. If so, his efforts won’t lead to the “ultimate deal” he ‎longs to broker, but it will lay the foundation for more realism about the peace ‎process. It will also put the Palestinians on ‎notice about what they must do if they genuinely want a two-state solution.‎

Jonathan S. Tobin is the opinion editor of JNS.org and a contributing writer for ‎National Review. 

Report: Trump May Exit Peace Talks After ‘Tense’ Kushner/Abbas Meeting

June 24, 2017

Report: Trump May Exit Peace Talks After ‘Tense’ Kushner/Abbas Meeting, Jerusalem Post, Asser Okbi/ Maariv Haskavua, Jpost.Com Staff, June 24, 2017

(“Abbas angrily accused Kushner and Trump’s lead international negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, of taking Israel’s side. . . ” After the Obama administration, he must be shocked. — DM)

Abbas and Kushner. (photo credit:REUTERS)

US President Donald Trump is reportedly weighing whether to pull out of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations following a “tense” meeting with White House senior staff and officials in Ramallah, according to London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat on Saturday.

The report claimed that Trump is to determine the future of reigniting Mideast peace talks in the near future, including  the possibility of withdrawing completely from the process.

The al-Hayat report came just days after a meeting between the administration’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which was described as “tense” by an Abbas advisor present at the talks.

Abbas was supposedly furious with the president’s son-in-law after Kushner relayed Israeli demands to the 81-year-old Palestinian leader which included the immediate halt of payments to terrorists and their families.

Abbas angrily accused Kushner and Trump’s lead international negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, of taking Israel’s side and refused to commit to the request.

The report claims that the Trump administration was equally upset with Abbas after he failed to denounce the latest stabbing attack in Jerusalem, leaving 23-year-old St.-Sgt. Maj. Hadas Malka brutally stabbed to death in a terror attack last week. Ties were further strained after Abbas reportedly refused to meet  American ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

The Palestinian official also told the paper that the Americans demanded Palestinian officials curb inflammatory statements regarding Israel.

“(Kushner) will submit his report to the president and, after it is submitted, Trump will decide if there’s a chance for negotiations or it might be preferable to pull out peace talks,” the official said.

Abbas claimed that Israel is using the issue of payments to terrorists and their families as a pretext to avoid entering peace-talks, saying that the payments are a part of the Palestinian government’s “social responsibility.”